March 2015 Dividend Watch List Update

by Evan

Every month for the past couple of years I have spent a few hours putting together this post.  You may think that a few hours is long time, but most people put more time in searching for a TV, Computer or other consumer item that will likely be gone well before I sell my holding.  The purpose of my research is to find undervalued stocks that fit very specific metrics.
First, I take the entire U.S. Stock Market and bring them down to the 150 or so stocks that have increased dividends for the past 20+ years.  I then take those and look for companies that are valued less than their peers, but making more money and are close to their 52 week low to ensure an upside.

Before we look at possible future investments, I want to highlight my activity in February 2015

Dividend Investment Portfolio Activity in 2015

On February 12, 2015 I bought 10 shares of Aflac. The metrics are defined below. but on the day of purchase it had a 9.1 P/E vs a 13.4 for the industry, an operating margin of 19.3% vs industry average of 12%, a book value of 1.6 vs an industry average of 1.4, a dividend yield of 2.43% and a dividend payout of around 25%.  With that purchase Aflac became my largest holding in this account at $4,100+ (at the time of this post I have unrealized gains of 21%).  Most of the positions were bought in 2011 so they have gains of 90%+.

I didn’t sell anything in February.

Adding February’s Dividend Income to the Cumulative Chart

Dividend Income


Attempting to Find Undervalued Dividend Champions for March 2015

This, along with everyone of these dividend research updates, is a snap shot in time (this one was on the night of March 3, 2015).  So please don’t use my data as anything but a starting point for your own research.  I use the metrics below to get to a “watch list” which I use to try and purchase equities closer to their 52 week low.

My Dividend Investment Portfolio Screening Criteria

The first five steps’ data is taken, manually, from Morningstar while Dividend Payout Ratio is taken from

  1. The company has paid increasing dividends for at least 20 years
  2. The stock has to have a Price to Earning that is lower than their industry average. The Price to Earnings Ratio has to below 20 regardless of industry average.
  3. The Operating Margin has to be in line with the particular stock’s industry average. I want companies that are profitable as compared to their peers.
  4. Price to Book – Should be below 4, but if it isn’t it must be in line with industry average (or lower).
  5. This monthly update the Dividend Yield should be above 2.5% (changes whenever I update the list depending how many stocks I have left after the first 4 steps).
  6. Dividend Payout Ratio – It took me a long time to add this to my screen but basically I weed out any companies paying over 60% to shareholders.  Couple reasons.  The main one would be sustainability, but also, I do want growth in a company and if all dollars are going out it is likely to hurt the company in the long run.

Since this is a snapshot I am not that strict since I am well aware that if the underlying company opens a tenth of a percent the other way it could pass a metric.

Definitions of Metrics Used for my Dividend Investment Portfolio

Since not everyone knows what I am talking about above I have provided definitions (all quotes taken from Investopedia):

  • Dividend Champions are those dividend paying American companies that have increased their dividend for the past 25 years. Unlike the Dividend Aristocrat list they do not have to be part of the S&P 500. I have included a part of the dividend contenders list (20+ years but less than 25).
  • P/E is Price is “a valuation ratio of a company’s current share price compared to its per-share Earnings.”
  • Operating margin is “a measurement of what proportion of a company’s revenue is left over after paying for variable costs of production such as wages, raw materials, etc. A healthy operating margin is required for a company to be able to pay for its fixed costs, such as interest on debt.”
  • Price to book is a ratio used to compare a stock’s market value to its book value. It is calculated by dividing the current closing price of the stock by the latest quarter’s book value per share.
  • Dividend Yield a “Financial ratio that shows how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price. In the absence of any capital gains, the dividend yield is the return on investment for a stock. Dividend yield is calculated by dividing Annual Dividends per Share by Price Per Share”
  • Payout Ratio – “The proportion of earnings paid out as dividends to shareholders, typically expressed as a percentage…The payout ratio is a key financial metric used to determine the sustainability of a company’s dividend payments.

Applying My Stock Screen Criteria to the Dividend Champion List

First Stock Screen: PE Ratio

The first Stocks I their eliminated were those whose Price to Earnings Ratios were out of line with their industry average. I also eliminate companies with PEs above 20 regardless of their industry average.  This brought me down from 157 equities to 56! 

Second Stock Screen: Operating Margin

Next I eliminated those stocks whose operating margin was not better than its peers in the industry. I want the companies I invest in to be more profitable than their peers. This way unless there is a huge problem with the industry they’d be less likely to stop doing something (i.e. paying increasing dividends) that they have been doing for the past 20+ years


Third Stock Screen: Reasonable Price to Book or in line with their Industry

I was looking for those stocks whose price to book value is low as to further evidence that it is undervalued. In an effort to limit the unintended consequence of choosing stocks with a lot of tangible or financial assets on the books I have started comparing the P/B to the industry average.


Fourth Stock Screen: Yield

While I am not ‘chasing yields’ I am attempting to create a dividend portfolio, so the next elimination step was to remove any stocks with a dividend yield of less than 2.3%. This is a moving target depending on how many stocks I have left to choose from. Sometimes I go for 2% sometimes 4%


Fifth Stock Screen: Payout Ratio

Next, I eliminated those equities whose payout ratio was 60%+.  I am not sure if this was a good level but from the articles that I have read indicate that is the top end for most stocks.


Undervalued Dividend Watch List for March 2015

1st Source Corp.SRCE
Arrow Financial Corp.AROW
Black Hills Corp.BKH
Community Trust Banc.CTBI
Cullen/Frost BankersCFR
Emerson ElectricEMR
First Financial Corp.THFF
First of Long Island Corp.FLIC
Johnson & JohnsonJNJ
Meredith Corp.MDP
National Fuel GasNFG
NextEra EnergyNEE
PartnerRe LimitedPRE
Questar Corp.STR
Southside BancsharesSBSI
Tompkins Financial Corp.TMP
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.WMT

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M. Idds March 5, 2015 - 9:29 pm

Great write-up. I really enjoy checking out your watch list every month.

Evan March 12, 2015 - 10:24 am

Thanks! Are you a dividend investor?

Captain Dividend March 6, 2015 - 12:23 am

Thanks for the screening! There’s a few names on the list that I’ve been looking at recently. I’d like to suggest one additional screen, dividend growth. I would remove anything under 2-2.5% growth or so. That would eliminate WMT at the very least. Keep up the great work.

Evan March 12, 2015 - 10:25 am

That’s an interesting metric. How far back to you look? 5yrs? 10 yrs? 20 yrs?

John March 6, 2015 - 7:39 am

Wow – I bought 10 shares of Aflac too in February! I have been doing a very similar stock screen at the beginning of every month. The only big difference is that I dropped my years of consecutive dividend increases to 10 instead of 20.

Evan March 12, 2015 - 10:27 am

Do you share your screen in a similar way? I’d love to check it out

writing2reality March 6, 2015 - 3:24 pm

Not familiar with every position on the list, but own five of the companies listed. I like JNJ below $100 and EMR below $58. I picked up both last month, and depending on capital would certainly add to both positions.

Thanks for the update on your watchlist Evan.

Evan March 12, 2015 - 10:28 am


Someone pointed out how funny it is to look at these watch lists (I have 2 or so years of them) and how the companies come into and out of “value” territory


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